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Conceptualizing Sexual Addiction Essay


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Conceptualizing Sexual Addiction

Human sexuality is critical to its continued existence. Thus a normal component of humanity, contemporary societal transformations as encouraged by mainstream media have resulted in numerous individuals suffering distorted viewpoints, justifying, rationalizing, as well as blaming others for failing to manage own sexuality (Deneke, Knepper, Green, & Carnes, 2015). Sex addicts tend to place self in negative and precarious situations overtime until normal sex stimuli becomes a leading cause of out of control behaviors.

According to Karila, Wéry, Weinstein, Cottencin, Petit, Reynaud, and Billieux (2014), clinical documentation of excessive sexual behaviors dates back to as 1812. Behavioral symptoms of this process addiction include:

  • Impulsively uncontrollable sexual behavior;
  • Persistent quest for high risk sexual activity;
  • Use of sexual behavior as a principal coping strategy;
  • Excessive time spent seeking sexual activity;
  • Tolerance to sex oriented high risk behaviors;
  • Severe psychological, physical, and social consequences;
  • Inability to cease perilous sexual behaviors;
  • Continued efforts or desires to edge out dangerous sexual behaviors;
  • Severe mood swings related to sexual activity;
  • Too much time used up in thinking or engaging in sexual activity or convalescing from sex related experiences.

Karila et al. (2014), reports that over 70% of sex addicts detail suffering withdrawal symptoms like sweating, insomnia, nervousness, high heart rate, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, and sweating between episodes. They seek out novel sexual partners, high frequency of sexual activity, and impulsive urges for pornography (Deneke et al., 2015). There is also a marked absence of physiological arousal while engaging in sex related actions, prostitution, as well as ignoring the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases like HIV/AIDS.

Adverse consequences associated with sexual addiction are inherently similar to negative outcomes related to other addictive disorders (Phillips, Hajela, & Hilton, 2015). Conversely, there are distinctive risks that affect persons with sex addiction. These include suffering HIV/AIDS, various STDs, as well as unwanted pregnancies leading to unplanned parenthood or hazards linked to abortion (Phillips et al., 2015). Sex addicts also tend to be caught up in a host of other addictive tendencies like nicotine dependency, illicit substance abuse, and alcoholism. For men, it is common to encounter addicts inclined to gambling addiction. They have also been recorded as having psychological health problems and a poor outlook to life.

Karila et al. (2014), sex addicts seem to also suffer a number of psychiatric co-morbidities. These include; appetite and sleep fluctuations that lead to mood disorders, social phobia, dysthymia, social phobia, post traumatic stress disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety disorders, and impulsivity. They experience internal conflicts which often compels them to seek to release it (Phillips et al., 2015). Sexual compulsivity often emerges as the preferred avenue for such ventilation in an attempt to arrest psychiatric and in other instances, psychological pain. The sexual compulsivity associated with sex addiction is in many instances aimed towards attaining some form of mood alteration. Sex becomes an activity highly objectified as a means of relief attainment bringing about a calming effect from internal regulation. With this understanding, it become clear that the means to assist a sex addict is through generating awareness that there are realities that result in internal build up of unrealized tensions (Phillips et al., 2015). A counselor therefore has to work to reverse the addicts’ perceived source for relief as misguided and then chart a new path forward to enabling them understand the manageable source of internal stressors and ultimately solving the problem.

In conclusion, sexual addiction is different from other addiction types since it does not arise from some external source. However, the consequences are equally devastating. It not only often leads to cross-addiction but tend to place other societal members at risk especially in cases where a sex addict suffers STDs. By conceptualizing the condition, it has emerged that the most critical element in treatment of sex addiction involves prompting a patient to be fully cognizant that there are internal stressors that compel them to engage in risky sexual activity. Understanding this truth enables the counselor to chart a framework through which to accept the new reality and look for obtainable solution to internal pains.




Deneke, E., Knepper, C., Green, B. A., & Carnes, P. J. (2015). Comparative study of three levels of care in a substance use disorder inpatient facility on risk for sexual addiction. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity22(2), 109-125.

Karila, L., Wéry, A., Weinstein, A., Cottencin, O., Petit, A., Reynaud, M., & Billieux, J. (2014). Sexual addiction or hypersexual disorder: different terms for the same problem? A review of the literature. Current pharmaceutical design20(25), 4012-4020.

Phillips, B., Hajela, R., & Hilton JR, D. L. (2015). Sex addiction as a disease: Evidence for assessment, diagnosis, and response to critics. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity22(2), 167-192.